January 26, 2021 1:35:47 am
A 14-year-old artistic roller skater from Ahmedabad and a teenaged swimming champion from Rajkot are among the winners of Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Purashkar-2021 for sports from Gujarat.
Skater Khushi Patel, 14, who has represented India in international events, is a Class 11 commerce student of Udgam School for Children. Swimming champion, Mantra Harkhani, 17, from Rajkot, suffers from Down’s syndrome.
Khushi, who has been skating since the age of four, said that in the beginning due to lack of infrastructure, it was difficult to practice. “However, over time, some good skating rinks came up in Ahmedabad, making it feasible to follow this sport,” she says.
“The talented Khushi Chirag Patel has made India proud. The young skating champion, who hails from Ahmedabad, has won numerous medals at districts and national level championships. She has also represented India at international championships…,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
At the age of 14, she was the youngest participant in the under-19 age group where she was ranked fourth. This year, she represented India at the artistic skating world championship held in France.
Talking to Mantra, won two gold medals at the Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly said that he had become an inspiration for his parents and that his parents had become inspiration for other parents with special children.
Modi also told Mantra that he would be happy to meet him during his next visit to Gujarat.
An elated Jitendra Harkhani, Mantra’s father, said, “We are happy that people are now talking about our son and his achievements, but as a father, I am concerned… As a special Olympian, he can go to Olympic only once… He told the PM that he wants to be an acclaimed swimmer and serve the nation. But we don’t know how that will happen. People with Down’s syndrome are not eligible to get benefit of reservation in government jobs.”
Jintenra, who was working as Saurashtra area head with a private bank, was fired from the job after he refused promotion with transfer in 2015 to stay back in Rajkot to look after his son.
“My wife sacrificed her career to become Mantra’s teacher. She joined as a teacher at the school where we enrolled our son. But our son was not able to adjust in a normal school. So she founded a trust called Mantra Foundation and we are running an institute for special kids in collaboration with the school,” Jitendra added.
Mantra Foundation is serving around 100 special children and Bijal has developed a curriculum for them. Mantra has cleared his Class 10 examination from National Institute of Open Schooling and is preparing for Class 12.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines